Tuesday, 15 January 2019

2019 Bring it On!


Happy New Year to you all, and I wish every one of you good health and happiness for 2019.

Last week, best writing buddy Tracy Fells and I met up in our favourite cafe, armed with our target notebooks, for teacakes and a spot of yearly goal setting. We've been doing this for six years now - six years! I can hardly believe it. 

In my last post, I looked at whether I had achieved my 2018 goals. You can read it here.

But this post isn't about looking back, it's about looking forward and, if I'm honest, the 2019 goals have been harder to set than previous years. Why? Because where my writing goes this year will depend on how well the two books that will be published in May and August do. If I'm lucky, I might be offered another contract with my lovely publisher, Bookouture. If not... well, I'll just have to cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

There are a lot of things that I will be doing this year now I'm under contract: completing the publication process for book one then starting and completing the editing and publication process for book two. After that, there will be the publicity and the marketing to think about... not to mention the celebrating! But, these are not exactly goals. They're things that have to be done as the wheels of the publishing machine turn. 

It would be cheating to put 'to have two books published' as my goal for 2019!

Instead, I need to think about where I want to go after that and what new things I'd like to have achieved by the end of the year.

So here they are. My goals for 2019:


  • To enjoy every minute of being a published novelist .

  • To secure another publishing deal (this one is out of my hands).

  • To think about and start novel 3 (which is actually novel 4 as my first novel is still awaiting a publisher).

If I can achieve all these things in 2019, I shall be a very happy writer indeed.

What about you? Do you have yearly writing goals? If so, do feel free to share yours in the comments and I wish you the very best of luck with them.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Did I Achieve my 2018 Writing Goals?


It's time to say goodbye to the old writing year and welcome in the new.

Last week, I took a detailed look at my writing year which you can read here, but today I'm looking at the specific goals which I set with writing chum, Tracy Fells, in the first week of January 2018. As always, we wanted to make the goals achieveable (although we knew that luck would play its part along with hard work).

When writing this post, I looked back at my 2016 and 2017 roundups and saw that, in both years, I hoped it would be 'The Year of the Novel'. It wasn't to be and neither was it this year. BUT big things (novel related) did happen. I got a publishing contract with Bookouture and next year WILL be the year of the novel (or novels - as my second will be published in 2019 too).

So, going back to my specific targets, how did I do?

Goal: Submit something to my RNA New Writing Scheme reader. 

Achieved? Yes. I submitted my first novel for a second opinion. This novel went on to make the top five in the Simon and Shuster/ Darley Anderson Literary Agency 'Write Here Right Now' competition. 

I am delighted (based on goal number two) to have now graduated from the New Writing Scheme.

Goal: Continue submitting to agents/publishers with a view to having my first two novels published.

Achieved? A big fat YES (and also no). I made the decision, earlier in the year, to stop submitting to agents and submit directly to publishers. Within days, I had an offer of a two-book deal with publisher Bookouture but this would be for my second novel and a new one.

Goal: Continue to write two stories a month for the magazines.

Achieved? No. Because of my commitment to the novels (writing novel two while embarking on the editing process for book one), I realised that it was impossible to focus properly on both the novels and the short stories. Sadly, it was the stories that had to take a back seat.

Goal (Non-writing related): To play carols on my new violin by this Christmas.

Achieved? Yes! I bought a book of carols and (what joy!) found I could play nearly all of them. Sadly, I lacked the confidence to play them in front of anyone other than my husband and daughter though.

... and that's it for another year. Next week Tracy and I are meeting to set our 2019 goals and you'll be the first to see them when I post them here later in the week.

All that's left, is to wish you all a very Happy New Year!









Tuesday, 18 December 2018

My Writing Year 2018



Today, as tradition requires, I shall be looking back at all the lovely things (writing and otherwise) that I've done during 2018. Huge thanks, as always, to everyone who has travelled this journey with me.

January - I started the year with the usual teacakes and goal setting with writing chum, Tracy Fells, and I shall be posting how I got on with them after Christmas. I rejoined the RNA New Writers' Scheme. I started submitting my novel to agents. My first guest of the year was Amanda Brittany.

February - This month's guest was Rosemary Goodacre.

March -  Went to the Write By the Beach Conference in Brighton.

April - Had a wonderful few days in Mallorca. Natalie Kleinman was this month's guest. 

May - Submitted my manuscript to Bookouture. Elaine Everest was my guest. I had a week in the fabulous Lake District. Had an email from Bookouture editor requesting a phone call!

June - Angela Petch was my guest. Attended Cream of Crime talk (Mark Billingham, Erin Kelly, Sarah Hilary and William Shaw) at Steyning Festival. Attended the Audiobook Secrets event at Horsham Library (interview with Katerina Diamond and Antonia Beamish) as part of the Love Audio week, where I tried my hand at narrating! My first novel, The Book of Memories' made the top five of the Write Here Write Now novel competition run by Darley Anderson Literary Agency/Simon and Schuster. Biggest news of the year: I was offered a two-book contact with Bookouture. Started writing book two in contract.

July - My guests this month were Deirdre Palmer and Vivien Hampshire. Had some author photos taken. Went on a lovely canal boat holiday. Started structural edits on book one.

August - Bookouture announced my book acquisition. Samantha Tonge was this month's lovely guest. Started line edits on book one.

September - Was told that my first novel will be made into an audiobook. Had a wonderful holiday on the Greek island of Meganissi.

October - I co-hosted the first ever live author Q&A on Twitter for The People's Friend. Attended an evening with Elly Griffiths at the Gluck Studio.

November -  Had a week in La Gomera. Travelled to London for dinner with my Bookouture editor, Jennifer Hunt. Attended the RNA Winter Party.

December - Started my copy edits for book one. My final guest of the year was Kate Helm (Harrison).


All in all, it's been a very momentous year. The highlight being my two-book deal with Bookouture. 2019 will be even more exciting as it will see the publication of my two psychological thrillers. It's been a long time coming so bring it on!

I hope you've all had an equally productive year and thank you for your support.


Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Plan, Pitch and Sell Your Book - it worked for me!


* EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT FOR WENDY'S WRITING NOW READERS *

I'd like to tell you a fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a writer who saw a pot of gold (a publishing deal) at the end of a rainbow. It was a journey she felt compelled to make, as her goal was in touching distance, but however fast she walked, the goal moved ever further away. 

Along the way, this brave author was tossed golden nuggets of hope - an unsolicited request for her novel from a publisher, agents asking to read the full manuscript and an 'almost happily ever after' following an offer of representation.

Sadly, there were also obstacles placed in her path and the fairy tale came to an end. You can read my post about it here.

Another book and another year later, this author embarked on the journey again. This time she wore her thickest armor but, having come so far before, it was hard to start at the beginning again. Feeling despondent, and scared that her novel pitch might not be good enough, she came to a crossroads and stopped, wishing that a fairy godmother would appear to reassure her that she was travelling the right path.

To her surprise, her wish was granted. Her friend, author Kate Harrison, came to her rescue. "I think I have something that might help you," she said, waving her magic wand.

It was her on-line writing course called Pitch, Plan and Sell Your Book 




The writer used the information on the course to check her bio was compelling, her description arresting and her covering letter the best it could be. She carried on with her journey and, oh joy, she could see the palace of Bookouture ahead of her, shining brightly. "We would like to offer you a contract," they said, after reading the author's pitch. "Would you like to join us in our magic kingdom?"

Too right she would! 

That author, of course, is me and with the help of Kate, I had my 'happily ever after' moment after all and I couldn't be more excited. You can read the blog post announcing my two-book acquisition here.

If you too would like help making your dreams come true, Kate is offering an exclusive 60% discount for Wendy's Writing Now blog readers.



Gift vouchers also available!


If you're still not sure, let me tell you a bit more about the Plan, Pitch and Sell Your Book course.

The course is suitable for both new and experienced writers:

  • Someone who's written a book but is receiving constant rejections from agents and publishers. 
  • An indie writer whose books aren't being read or who are receiving unfair reviews.
  • A new writer with an exciting idea who is unsure where to go with it.


The information is covered in 7 steps in a series of videos, presentations, cheat sheets and exercises.

Kate is professional, engaging and knows what she's talking about. She helped me find my way to the perfect publisher... why not let her help you too? 


Kate has sold over a million novels and non-fiction books across indie and trade publishing, with her 19 titles translated into 20+ languages. Before becoming an author, she worked as a TV news correspondent and led a team developing and pitching new programmes and formats for the BBC.   

She's written across the genres from health and diet books, to YA suspense, series novellas, women’s fiction, and now thrillers under the name Kate Helm. Kate is also co-founder of Write by the Beach, the annual conference for new writers in Brighton, where she lives. Her online course, Pitch & sell your book helps authors sell books and develop original ideas using emotional insight, trends and reader need.


If you'd like to find out more about Kate, why not visit her  Website

You can buy her latest novel The Secrets You Hide from Amazon here 





Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Meeting my Editor, the RNA Party and the Tube!


It's hard to believe that the RNA Winter Party has come around again. It doesn't seem twelve months since I was at the last one. I've always enjoyed the event but, this year, there was something else to look forward to. I was being taken out to dinner beforehand by my Bookouture editor, Jennifer hunt.

Now, since Jennifer approached me with a publishing deal in May, we have been in contact by telephone and email but it's not the same as meeting someone in the flesh. At last, I was going to meet the person who had loved my novel enough to offer me a contract... and I was super excited.


Me and Jennifer
Jennifer had booked a table at Tozi in Pimlico so all I needed do do was get there in time and find the place. It didn't start well when my train was cancelled and I had to travel to Victoria via Brighton. Not good when you suffer from travel anxiety at the best of times. The train was then held up outside Clapham Junction due to a signalling failure and I could see the minutes ticking away. What sort of impression would it give if I was late? it wasn't even as if I could let Jennifer know as I didn't have her mobile number!

Finally the train arrived at Victoria and I ran all the way (with the help of trusty Google Maps) to the restaurant - which wasn't a bad thing as it meant I didn't have time to get nervous. After all, meeting your editor for the first time is like going on a blind date. What if you don't get on? What if you have nothing to talk about?

As soon as I was shown to my table, I knew I had nothing to worry about. Jennifer was just like she was on the phone, warm and welcoming, and the meal was very informal. We shared a selection of tapas dishes, helped along by a glass of Prosecco, and talked about all sorts of things. It wasn't long before we were looking at our watches and realising we'd better get our skates on if we were to make the RNA party.

This year, as last year, the party was held at 1 Birdcage Walk, in a beautiful room lined with books. It was Jennifer's first RNA party and I warned her it would be very hot and very loud - but also very friendly.

It was lovely to catch up with old friends and new (many of whom I only knew through social media). People such as Jenni Keer, who's been tavelling a similar writing journey to me these last couple of years. If I'm honest, the whole evening went by in a blur and it took me a good twenty minutes to get to the bar for my first drink as I kept getting stopped along the way.
Me and Liz

To top the evening off, I did a very brave thing. With the help of my lovely friend, Liz Eeles, I went back to Victoria on the underground! Most of you will know that I never EVER go on the tube (the last time I tried, I felt panicky and had to go back out again) but this time it wasn't too busy and the District Line isn't too deep, so I survived. Quite an achievement!

All in all, it was a very successful evening and if you've been thinking about going to one of the RNA events, but haven't felt brave enough, please consider going. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy it. 

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Scared to Let Go


In September, I wrote a blog post called Moving on a Bit. Although, I hadn't announced it yet (I had to wait until I was given the go-ahead) I had already signed my two-book deal with the brilliant Bookouture and had started writing the second novel in my contract.

My post was about how difficult it was to write short stories alongside longer-length projects and how, even though I'd managed to do this when writing my first two novels, I had decided to take a step back from magazine writing for a while to give myself the very best chance of success.

I think it was the only decision I could have made as, very quickly after this, I began work on editing novel one. First there were the structural edits, then the line edits, then the book was sent to an independent editor for copy edits, which I shall get back in December. At the same time as this, I've been working on novel two. 

Last week I had an email from my lovely editor at The People's friend. They were buying two of my stories. This should, of course, have been cause for celebration, but instead I felt nothing but anxiety. The reason for this was that, when I came to enter the sales into my records, I realised that they only had one more of my stories left to read. In the six years I've been writing for the magazine, this has never happened, as I always like to have at least ten with them. I then looked back and saw I hadn't written them a new story in two months (I used to write one a week).

It was a truly unsettling moment and I vowed that I would leave my novel and write a story there and then. I looked at my list of ideas and chose one before doing what I always do and just to start writing. This technique has never failed me yet as, along the way, the small kernel of the idea usually starts to grow quite quickly into something story-like and, if I get stuck, a dog walk usually sorts it out.

Not this time.

To my horror, by seven hundred words, my idea was still just that... an idea. The characters hadn't come to life, the plot hadn't taken shape and the end wouldn't reveal itself. Eventually, I had to stop.

I've tried to analyse what happened. It might be a) I've got out of the habit of writing short fiction b) I was writing it because I felt guilty not because I wanted to c) My head was still in my novel 

Whatever the reason, it's worried me. I've always been successful writing for the magazines and I don't want to forget how to do it. It's where my income comes from and I've always enjoyed it. I'm also afraid that, with the magazine market shrinking, the competition for story sales is greater than it's ever been and taking a step back can be a dangerous thing to do. 

Getting my publishing deal has been one of my greatest achievements but there's no way of knowing what will happen once the books come out. All I know is that I have to give it my very best shot. In the meantime, I'm going to leave the story and come back to it with fresh eyes. I've done it three hundred times before, so I shall just have to have faith in myself that I can do it again.

Anyone else out there in the same boat?

Monday, 22 October 2018

Sighing and Other Irritations


I was reading back over the last couple of chapters of my work in progress last week (before I carry on with my writing, I always read and edit my words from the previous day) and something soon became clear to me.

A lot of my characters stand in doorways. 

In fact, it's amazing how many doorways there are in my novel... and how many times people stand in them. 

Sometimes they lean
Sometimes they loiter
Sometimes they eavesdrop
Sometimes they hover

... but mostly they just stand.

It reminded me of the time (a long time ago now) when my husband told me that a lot of the characters in my magazine stories 'furrowed their brows' and occasionally even 'knitted' them. Yes really! 

You'll be glad to know they never do that now.

It made me wonder about other writers. Do their characters also have a fear of crossing the threshold or are there other irritating things they do much too often? With this in mind, I took to Facebook and asked the question. Here is a list of the answers I got back - they may or may not surprise you.

  • sigh
  • blush
  • rise to their feet
  • take a deep breath
  • shrug
  • smile
  • giggle
  • roll eyes
  • lock gaze
  • nod
  • shake head
  • raise eyebrows
  • check watch
  • turn on their heel
  • frown
  • linger on thresholds
  • stir tea
  • pull up a chair
  • put kettle on

My favourite answer by far was the writer whose characters often winced and gripped each other's elbows (that sounds very painful!)

When the novel is finished, I shall definitely be on the look out for all these sneaky little actions - just in case they've crept in when I wasn't paying attention.

So pull up a chair, take a deep breath, stir your tea and smile while you think of some other actions we could add to the list. If you do, I'll be the one shrugging and rolling my eyes in the doorway!